Manual Labour

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Hello everyone again. I apologize for such a long time since my last post. The days have been zooming by since settling back in from spring break and transitioning from classes to my internship. I am approaching the last month of the semester and every college student knows how quickly those days pass.

As I said I have begun the internship portion of the program, and I am working at a constituency office for a member of the British Parliament, Jon Cruddas. Like Congress, The British Parliament is made up of two houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Jon is a member of the upper house, the Commons, and represents the ‘Dagenham and Rainham’ area in Far East London. It is roughly a 1-hour ride on the Tube and tends to be a wee-bit crammed during the morning rush hour, but in a way I actually enjoy it because I get to read the newspaper and sip my to-go coffee like a real, grumpy, London commuter would and sneer at every person who dare bump knees with me at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday.

The House of Commons is similar to the House of Representatives in the U.S. Each member represents a “constituency” area of about 70,000 people. The role of the MP (member of Parliament) is to address the concerns of the voters in his or her constituency and take them to Parliament to work toward law changes, increases in funding, preserving parks etc. Of course, with roughly 70,000 people it is impossible for one man to respond to all those e-mails and complaints from citizens—and that’s where I come in.

The office where I work is a group of about three employees and many other volunteers who work on behalf of their MP and his party – in my case it is the Labour party. Everyone, including me, is responsible for writing e-mail responses, answering phone calls, and writing press releases on behalf of Jon Cruddas. I was also fortunate to join other MPs and party activists walking door-to-door to campaign for the Labour candidate in the upcoming London mayoral election and the European Union referendum in June.

For a political junkie like me this is a dream come true. The U.S. and Britain are one of the most powerful and important alliances in the world, and it is a privilege to see the guts of British politics and how they compare/contrast to the U.S. While working in this office is exciting to me, it isn’t exactly a glamorous job so I have just included some pictures of my spring break in Barcelona, Athens and Rome instead. Cheers!

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About the author

Derek Smith

My name is Derek Smith and I am a sophomore here at JCC. I am a communication major and an aspiring broadcast journalist. I will be studying media and communications in completing an internship in London for the spring 2016 semester. Following my stay in London I will attend SUNY Oswego for broadcast journalism to finish my 4 year degree. I grew up in nearby Frewsburg but now Jamestown is where I call home. I am an avid fan of all sports and consider myself a political junkie. I am very passionate about the role young people play in activism, especially climate change. I enjoy reading the newspaper and writing when I’m not watching cable news or ESPN. I am looking forward to London but I will miss JCC and all its great students and faculty.